The whole “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” saying sounds cheesy, but really when you break it down, there’s truth to it! If every relationship in our life was the exact same, we wouldn’t grow or be challenged and stretched by those who enter our lives, heck, if we kept every friendship through every walk of life, we wouldn’t have the time or energy to go deep. The beauty of relationships is that they grow, they change, evolve, transform, and sometimes they exit stage left.
Think about it. No two relationships look the same and that’s a good thing! Your childhood best friends serve a different purpose than your life partner, and your siblings offer different perspectives and company to you than, say, your work friends or peers.
I have a pretty tight and close circle. My mom and my sister are my ride-or-dies, they are my speed dials, but I’m definitely someone who has an intimate group of friends outside of my family. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that friendships evolve as our lives evolve and our families grow and the days and weeks get fuller. And so even though I no longer group text 15 separate girlfriends anytime a big event in my life happens, I know I have true friends that I can call on day or night.
In this episode, you’ll learn the 5 kinds of relationships I think everyone should prioritize in their life! Let’s get into it, friends.
First up we have lifelong friends and these buddies would be the “lifetime” portion of the “reason, season, or lifetime” saying. Lifetime doesn’t mean that you have to have known them since you were in diapers, for me, these are the friends who have been my best friends since college, so going on 15-plus years now – whew, that makes me feel old!
These are the friends who have walked with you through different stages of life, staying friends through it all. You might have great friends from childhood or high school who, even if you don’t see them for ages, you can pick up right where you left off. You might have friends who have walked through certain experiences with you, like college or job recruiting. Whatever it is, lifetime friends have navigated life with you and stayed consistent in their friendship.
You likely support each other from a distance or become next door neighbors. Regardless of where your lifelong pals live, you know that even if miles or years keep you apart, you’re going to share a connection for the rest of your lives because of your shared memories, the hurdles you’ve walked through together, and the tears, laughter and unforgettable times spent together. These are the people who have grown with you and have evolved and supported your growth and evolution.
Lifelong friends for some could simply mean those who have gone through different stages of life with you, supporting and championing you through the hard seasons and celebrating with you through the joyful ones. And even if they aren’t in the SAME stage of life with you now, they’re still with you, like you’re in different boats but rowing together.
Next we have lifestage friends or relationships. These are the people who JUST. GET. IT, in terms of what’s going on in your personal life (don’t worry, we’ll get to those who get the professional side next). It’s the people who are on a similar path as you and share the same lifestage that you’re at.
If you’re a new parent, it’s the other new mom you text when your baby’s woken you up every 3 hours for 6 nights in a row. If you’re newly accepted to law school, it’s the classmates who you can commiserate over coursework with and grab a drink with after with. If you just moved to a new town, it’s other recent transplants that maybe you meet through your realtor who are getting to know fun restaurants and neighborhoods to explore in the area, too.
These relationships help walk you through the life stage you’re in. Sometimes they last forever, sometimes they shift or change when you enter your next life stage. This type of relationship is important because they support you through your current reality. It’s not like other people in your life DON’T sympathize or try to understand what you’re going through…but there’s something to be said about walking through the fire with someone else in the flames with you. These friendships don’t just *try* to understand your highs and lows, they FEEL them because they’re experiencing similar or the exact same ones.
Trust me, it’s absolutely refreshing to have friendships with people who are where you are right now, so if you’re struggling in this area, try and find other people who are on a similar path as yours!
Likeness relationships, as defined by yours truly, are the third category, and the word “likeness” literally means resemblance or similarity, and so for this category of friendship I’m talking about someone in a similar place career-wise as you. When I think of likeness, I think of someone who is on a similar trajectory or shares similar ambitions as yours when it comes to the work you do or the way you impact the world.
Your likeness friend is someone who understands the professional stage you’re in and who you can bounce your ideas off of, someone who can relate to what you do for a living, and who is pursuing something similar or parallel to you. They understand your work, or even just understand a particular trait about you — it’s the kind of relationship without caveats or where you don’t feel like you have to explain yourself. (Where are my fellow Enneagram 3s because I KNOW y’all get me and count as potential likeness friends when it comes to work!)
Like, if you just started a business, it’s the entrepreneur friend who you met in a Facebook group that actually gets what you’re talking about when overwhelmed with juggling a million different hats. Or maybe you’re climbing a corporate ladder and crushing the side hustle passion project at the same time, and really the only other people who can get that level of dedication are other people who are juggling both alongside of you. Or maybe you’re ready to pivot into a new arena, your likeness friend is also in a stage of transition and they get the identity crisis that can ensue when you choose to shift roles.
These relationships are vital because a lot of career growth is extremely personal, in that even if you work with a team or coworkers, you are the only one in your specific position who knows what it’s like to feel stretched with your skills and pushed in your leadership. Those who have similar work lives to you might not be in the exact same place, but they can often understand your qualms and celebrate your work accomplishments more than people doing totally different work.
Number four is the unconditional love category. Man, this one is so important and it’s going to look different for each of us. For many, your unconditional love crew would be your family, whether that’s your natural or your chosen family.
Sometimes “family” doesn’t share DNA, sometimes it means the people who rally and support you and give you truth and life no matter what, regardless of blood.
They’re the ones you can count on for anything and who will support you through thick and thin, people who will do life with you until the end of your days. They are the ones who would pass the 3AM test with flying colors, meaning you’d call them at 3AM and know they’d show up without question. The people in your life who will love you no matter what and you feel free to show up as your full self, unapologetically.
For me, this is without a doubt my family. I lived away from home for 12 years and in that time I was over five hours from home, so I became way more independent and not used to asking for help or relying on family support. Moving home to family and becoming a mom retrained me to lean on others for support and to support others freely and it’s been the most beautiful transition, to not only be in close vicinity to these humans I love so dearly, but also to just be there FOR each other at the drop of the hat if any of us needs support or company.
Think about your life and the person or people who fill that unconditional loving role for you and better yet, take a few minutes to reach out to them to thank them, encourage them, and let them know what they mean to you!
The final category are leadership relationships; these are the people who inspire you to do better and pursue your goals and dreams. I honestly struggled with this sort of relationship early in my career. I was dead set on doing things myself and learning things on my own and I missed opportunities to invite leaders or mentors into my world to speak into my life and to help guide me on the path.
This relationship is vital for your growth but also for your life. The people who fill these roles are your mentors who are a few steps ahead of you in business or life. Their values align with yours and they give you the motivation to go for what in life! They are the ones who inspire you and who push you in the right direction.
Having people in your life who support your growth, and who challenge you to keep learning, is such an invaluable connection to foster. This person (or people) will help guide you in whatever way they can and the best part is, if you don’t know who they are, ummm hi, hello, I hopefully fall into this category for you right now as you’re listening to this show.
Whether it’s online mentors who you follow on social media and may or may not know you exist or paid mentors in the form of coaches or consultants, or even just people who are a little further on the path than you in real life. It’s important that your circle has someone who inspires you, encourages you, and guides you to be the best version of YOU. And this person can totally change with the seasons you’re in.
The Big Picture
So there you have it, the five types of relationships you should be fostering in your world! Remember, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality and as you continue in your life, it’s important you feel supported and have people in your world who simply “get it!”
The truth is, we can’t do life alone — or at least, we can’t do it well and feel fulfilled – and we shouldn’t attempt it. People are made for connection and in a world where connecting feels hard, it’s important to focus on ways we can connect and support one another through life. Here’s your reminder today to check in on your friends, yes, even the strong ones, and let them know that you’re here for them, you see them, and you support them! As we grow and evolve, our relationships will, too, but today I hope that you can check off each of these 5 categories of people in your life, knowing you are so lucky to be walking this road with people who love you!